The All India Sub Junior Under-13 Ranking Badminton tournament being played at the Shivalik School, Mohali was stopped abruptly on Friday.
The fourth day of the seven-day long badminton tournament was marred by controversy as aggrieved parents protested against participants being over the age limit, which forced the organizers to halt the matches.
This was the first time in Indian badminton history that a tournament was halted midway due to an over-age fraud issue.
The Punjab Badminton Association has been organizing the tournament under the auspices of the Badminton Association of India (BAI). After the qualifying rounds were held during the first three days, the main draw matches started on Friday.
The scheduled U-13 girls' singles matches were held for the first couple of hours from 9 am to 11 am. There were more matches to be held from 9 am to 7 pm on Friday.
However, these contests were suspended due to protests by angry parents against the over-age players competing in the tournament.
Multiple cases of age-fudging emerged during the All India Sub-Junior Under-13 ranking tournament (June 19 to 25) in Hyderabad. Now, a similar scene has unfolded at the ongoing U-13 event in Mohali.
The chief referee of the tournament Manjusha Sahasrabudhe tried hard to control the aggrieved parents but could not do so. He told Sportskeeda on Friday:
“From the first day of the tournament, I started receiving protest letters from the parents. So far, we have received more than 70 letters about the over-age players. Around 15 players in the tournament are clearly over-aged, according to some parents. Many parents turned aggressive today and sat on the courts and forced us to stop the matches."
The Pune-based chief referee of the tournament wanted to continue with Friday’s scheduled first-round matches. However, hostile protests by a group of parents stopped them from completing the order of play.
Some parents even shouted slogans against the BAI and General Secretary Sanjay Mishra for their lack of action against the alleged cheaters. The chief referee explained:
“Protesting parents wanted the organizers to stop those ’15-odd over-age players’ from playing today. They said if they are allowed to play then we will not allow matches to be conducted and enter the playing arena. They sat on the courts for an hour. We tried to calm them down but nothing happened. Then after a long drama, the decision has been taken to halt the matches for a day."
BAI observer Bamang Tago could not satisfy angry parents in Mohali badminton tournament
The secretary of the Arunachal Badminton Association, Bamang Tago, was present at the venue when all the drama unfolded. However, even Tago could not satisfy the angry parents despite several requests. Speaking about the same, he said:
“I listen patiently to all the aggrieved parents. I understand their point and also respect their thoughts. They were upset about the lack of concrete action on the part of the BAI despite hundreds of over-age players participating in the Hyderabad and Mohali tournaments. I have given my feedback to the BAI general secretary Sanjay Mishra about today’s development."
The BAI observers stated Sanjay Mishra will reach Mohali on Friday night. He will hold a meeting with the aggrieved parents on Saturday morning to resolve the problem.
Aggrieved parents have also approached the organizing secretary, Tejinder Bedi, protesting the participation of over-age players in the tournament and demanding immediate action. Bedi said:
“BAI secretary Sanjay Mishra will try to find out the exact problem regarding the protests by the aggrieved parents. After the meeting, the BAI will make a final decision about the resumption of the matches. We are hopeful that a fruitful decision will come and we can conduct the rest of the tournament."
Bedi confirmed that BAI secretary Sanjay Mishra will have an interaction with the parents at 7 am on Saturday. Joint secretaries of the BAI, KK Sharma and Surinder Mahajan are also expected to join Saturday’s meeting.
The tournament, which started on June 28, is slated to end on July 3.
Sportskeeda broke the news last week and highlighted the large-scale age fraud issues in the Hyderabad tournament.
Taking a serious note of the proceedings at the Chetan Anand Sports Center in Hyderabad, one of the members of the age fraud committee, Sandeep Heble, wrote a letter to the BAI on Saturday.